Day 1 - Flying & DrivingWhile there are direct flights to South Africa from the UK, we opted for a layover in Istanbul (with Turkish Airlines who were great) to save on a bit of cash! We flew overnight and landed in Johannesburg at around 10am. After a quick customs and baggage reclaim experience, we were headed to pick up our car. The 4 and a half hour drive to Kruger National Park was upon us. Our entertainment of choice for the journey was the podcast "My Dad Wrote a Porno" (which you should definitely listen to if you're not to prudish) and the time flew by! It was late afternoon / early evening by the time we arrived at our accommodation (Crocodile Kruger Safari Lodge) and after around 24 hours of flying, layovers and driving, we were completely knackered, and hit they hay shortly after dinner.
Day 2 & 3 - Kruger National Park Game DrivesNow for the moment I'd been waiting for - two days of game drives Kruger National Park! I couldn't fly all the way to South Africa without ticking this dream experience off my wishlist. This was without a doubt one of the highlights of the trip and I've written about it extensively if you're interest in hearing more about it:
Day 4 - Driving and FlyingAfter two amazing days, it was time for us to head back to Johannesburg Airport for the next part of our journey. The 4.5 hour drive flew past again and after a long lunch at the airport, we flew down to Port Elizabeth for the next leg of our South Africa adventure.
Day 5 - Tsitsikamma National Park & Storms RiverUnfortunately, we weren't able to spend any time exploring Port Elizabeth and instead jumped in the car to head to our first activity on the Garden Route. 2 hours later, we were in Tsitsikamma National Park ready to kayak and lilo on Storms River with Untouched Adventures. Unfortunately due to bad weather conditions, our kayaking tour was cancelled so we instead enjoyed the day hiking around the beautiful area. South Africa is a hub for adventure activities, you could easily spend days setting your adrenaline racing with activities such as kayaking, climbing, hiking, zip-lining, abseiling, paragliding, shark cage diving, surging, hang-gliding etc! Well... whenever the weather co-operates. Less than an hours drive later, we were arriving in our hotel in Plettenberg Bay ready for the next day.
Day 6 - Plettenberg Bay & Kynsa
MonkeylandOur first activity of the day was Monkeyland (which sounds cheesey but I can confirm that it's not). Monkeyland is home to 700 free-roaming rescued primates. These monkeys all come from captivity and after a rehabilitation period are released into the forest. You will be taken on a guided hour long walk through the HUGE forest observing the monkeys roaming freely (there is a strict look but don't touch policy). When in South Africa, I strongly urge visitors to research the "sanctuaries" they are looking to visit, Monkeyland appears to be a good one!
Jukani Wildlife SanctuaryWe then visited Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary (which is owned by the same company as Monkeyland). Jukani is home to big cats rescued from people's homes (where individuals thought that they would be able to keep them as pets) or canned hunting facilities (where they are kept in confined conditions and individuals pay an extortionate amount of money to shoot them). While I think Jukani do an amazing job in educating visitors (particularly on the point that any "sanctuary" which allows you to touch the wildlife is not a true "sanctuary"), resources are obviously tight and the enclosures aren't as large as I would have hoped. That being said, these cats have come from awful conditions and are unable to be released into the wild again; Jukani is the best option for them.
Lunch on the BeachIt wouldn't be a trip to South Africa without some epic food and epic views. On recommendation from our hotel owner, we headed to The Bungalow in Plettenberg Bay for lunch. Sitting on the rooftop in the glorious sunshine with a view of the beach wasn't too shabby!
Knysna HeadsA quick 30 minute drive later, we were in Knysna, another gorgeous sea-side town (South Africa is FULL of them). We obviously drove up to "Knysna Heads" view point and took some photos and a stroll around the area. The drive up is gorgeous and filled with lots of amazing houses - this is where my dream house would be!
Drive to Oudtshoorn & Watch The SunsetAn hour and a half drive inland through varied terrain lead us to Oudtshoorn where we would be spending the night. Oudtshoorn is in a semi-desert area and Callum regularly asked "where on earth are you taking me?" as there didn't appear to be any form of civilisation nearby for the majority of the drive! On arrival in a truly lovely guesthouse (Karoo Soul), we ate food and played cards whilst watching the sun set from a cosy outdoor communal area.
Day 7 - Cango Caves, Roadtrips & Swellendam
Cango CavesOne of the main attractions in Oudtshoorn is the Cango Caves. There are two different options for visiting the Cango Caves, one being the normal tourist route and the other being the "adventure route". We opted for the normal approach as the adventure route will see you climbing and crawling, taking on tight spaces and generally facing a whole host of challenges. The caves are super impressive and definitely worth a visit! This area of South Africa is also renowned for it's ostriches. We didn't partake in any of the ostrich based activities while we were there - but you'll be sure to see hundreds standing by the roadside!
RoadtripAfter visiting the caves, we spent a fair amount of time weighing up our options on what to do next. We knew that we had to be in Swellendam for our hotel that night but had two options on how to get there. The inland journey on the "R62" takes around 2 hours 30 minutes and we were told it passed through plenty of wine estates that we could stop at for lunch etc. The alternative would be to head to the coast (Mossel Bay) before heading to Swellendam, with the entire journey taking around 2 hours 45 minutes. We tried to take this route but our sat-nav was showing a much longer journey time - no idea what was wrong with the roads on this day! So with that, we started our journey inland. We didn't see many places to stop but did stumble across the cutest little rural farm shop and restaurant for lunch - win! Of course, a stop at Ronnie's Sex Shop was in order too - don't worry, it's not an actual sex shop. Just a bar!
Bontebok National ParkOn arrival in Swellendam, we checked into our hotel and quickly headed out to self-drive around Bontebok National Park before it closed. The park is home to the Bontebok (an unusual antelope type) but unfortunately we only had an our to quickly drive round the park and then leave - so only spotted a few Bontebok from afar.
Day 8 - Hermanus
Whale WatchingAfter an early wake up call and an hour and a half drive to Hermanus, we were ready to do some whale watching! We visited in late September which is one of the optimum times to spot Southern Right Whales off the coast of South Africa - it's safe to say that I was excited! I'd recommend booking a later whale watching cruise than we did. So many people told us to go and see L'Agulhas (the most Southern point in Africa) but it just wasn't possible for us to drive there before heading to Hermanus without missing our pre-booked whale watching spot. We booked a two hour trip with Hermanus Whale Watchers who were amazing. Warning - if you get seasick, take some medication beforehand or you'll end up with your face in a bag for the entirety of the journey (just like Callum).
Exploring HermanusWe didn't realise that we would be visiting Hermanus on the day of "Hermanus Whale Festival" meaning the town was a hive of activity and we weren't short of things to do or see! With live music and plenty of market stalls set up along the sea wall, we spent the day pottering around in the sunshine and eating good food before driving to Elgin for our final stop on the Garden Route.
Day 9 - Elgin and Cape Town
Cape Canopy Zip-LiningWe stayed in Elgin solely for the fact that we were then a short drive away from our 9am Cape Canopy Zip-lining Tour. There is another Cape Canopy Tour in Tsitsikamma National Park that we could have gone to, but of course Callum picked the biggest and scariest zip-lines (11 in total shooting from mountain to mountain). With my fear of heights not going anywhere soon, I'd cried before the safety briefing was over and din't think that I would be able to do any of the zip-lining. Thankfully, the guides are super reassuring and a few zip-lines in, I was loving it! The entire experience lasts for around 4 hours. Unfortunately I didn't have any zip pockets in my clothes, so couldn't take my camera/phone with me. The kind guides did film some elements though which I will upload at some point!
Cape TownAfter a 1 hour drive (which was much busier than any of the drives we'd done so far), we were in Cape Town for the last leg of our trip. After checking into our amazing hostel (The BIG Backpackers), we walked over to the V&A Waterfront to explore for the rest of the afternoon.
Day 10 - Chapman's Peak, Cape Point, Simon's Town & Boulder's Beach
Chapman's PeakDay 10 was our last day with the car, so we made sure to drive own to Cape Point. The journey takes just over an hour and is super scenic. Over the course of the two weeks, we had seen a tonne of gorgeous landscapes but there's definitely a reason why the Chapman's Peak drive is so famous!
Cape PointOur top tip would be to set off in the morning fairly early. We had no issues getting into Cape Point National Park, but as we were leaving, the queue was really starting to build up. You could spend as little or as much time as you want in Cape Point. Some guided walks take around an hour, or you can simply jump on the funicular and do minimal walking - either way, it's a gorgeous area and well worth you time.
Simon's Town & Boulder's BeachOn the way back up to Cape Town, we stopped off at Simon's Town for lunch and some exploring. This is of course home to the famous Boulder's Beach! I could have spent hours watching the penguins, who knew they could be so entertaining. Simon's Town is also a great place for lunch. We decided to eat at Seaforth Restaurant (which is right by Boulder's Beach) and it was incredible! The restaurant has amazing views of the sea and the food is even better. I don't eat fish, but it looked really good and even I considered eating it! Instead, I opted for the Cape Malay curry, which I highly recommend. We then obviously hopped back in the car for the hours drive back to Cape Town for the night.
Day 11 - StellenboschWith the car safely returned, we decided that the best way for us to visit the Winelands would be on an organised tour (don't drink and drive kids!), our Cape Town hostel arranged this for us and despite it being an overcast and cold day, we had a great time! The tour took us to 6 vineyards in Stellenbosch and it's safe to say that most of our group were fairly tipsy by the end of the journey! While this was a great introduction to the wine region, this is one area that I'd definitely like to go back to and maybe stay the night. Especially if the weather is better, it's meant to be a truly stunning area - not that we could tlel that through the clouds!
Days 12 to 14 - Cape TownWe spent the next 3 days exploring the City of Cape Town. Of course, this is a huge city with SO much to do, but here's a brief outline of our highlights!
- Table Mountain
- V&A Waterfront
- Free walking tours
- Camps Bay
- Hop On Hop Off Bus
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
- The Old Biscuit Mill Market
- District 6
- Greenmarket Square
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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